In the readings for Sunday, Oct. 14, wisdom is the key to knowing God and making life-giving choices in this life for the next.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Indeed the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword.
“How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
Our first two readings today set the stage for the story we hear in the Gospel. Wisdom, which is also often a name given to the Holy Spirit, is the most valuable gift God can give us. If we have wisdom — if we allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit — our lives will always be in union with God’s plan for us.
The letter to the Hebrews tells us that the word of God, also a title for Jesus, is “living and effective.” God’s word works its way into the tiniest places in our hearts and can fill the gaps in our lives. It knows us intimately and spurs us on to be whole.
The Gospel warns us (as our second reading two weeks ago did) against the comfort of material wealth. Comfort makes us lazy, and like the young man in the story, we want an easy way to be “good enough” for God. We can get the sense that the young man was disingenuous in his question — it seems he was expecting to be told that he was doing just fine and to go about his business as usual.
But, with Jesus, it’s never business as usual. God calls us to more. God calls us to make sacrifices, to be detached from material wealth, and to be attached instead to those who need us. People who aren’t attached to material wealth have no trouble giving it up and won’t be burdened with it when it’s time to leave it behind. And, of course, we have the promise that whatever we give up, we’ll receive a hundredfold. It’s important to remember that, even if we’re doing everything right, and have the best attitude, bad stuff can still happen. In fact, especially then, people are going to be annoyed with us.
Who is the wisest person you know? Why do you think they are wise?
When Jesus talks about the “eye of the needle,” he’s referring to a gate in Jerusalem’s wall that was very narrow and only people could walk through it. When merchants came in with their goods on camels, they would have to go through other gates to enter. Jesus is saying that, if we want to get through the “gate” (to heaven), we need to be able to leave material things behind. They won’t fit through the gate with us. How hard is it for you to let go of material things? What are you willing to give up? What aren’t you willing to give up?
How do you experience God’s word as living and effective? Do you read Scripture outside of Mass? If you don’t, give it a try!
As the letter to the Hebrews says, “the word of God is living and effective.” Pick out a few of your favorite Bible stories or verses and talk about what they mean to you. Maybe choose one of the daily readings to read together and discuss. You can get the readings at usccb.org, just click the date of the week on the calendar. Or try lectio divina, see directly below for instructions.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”